Photo courtesy of Mindful.org | Copy Editor Soondos Mulla-Ossman encourages readers to actively seek out friendship and human connection.
Do you know me now? Would you consider me a friend?
Did you know me when I was a freshman? Would you have considered me a friend then?
Back then, I highly doubt it. In between prescribing to my parents’ words that school should be used for nothing but academics, my crippling introversion and my younger-than-average age, I told myself I didn’t need friends. After all, Xavier isn’t that far from my home. I commute from there. In theory, I can see my friends from high school whenever I want. Just because I can’t see them every day anymore doesn’t mean I can’t just hang out with them on the weekends, right?
That’s what I told myself in classrooms when someone actually did go out of their way to strike up a conversation with me. I usually failed to notice the fact that they were trying to get my attention until I made eye contact and realized they’d been staring at me. At that point, my embarrassment would usually overtake my ability to converse properly. What was I supposed to do when I didn’t know how to hold a conversation? I didn’t know how to talk to people because I didn’t allow myself to. I never let myself learn how to, and that perpetuated the cycle.
I veered away from clubs. I thought those were just for socializing. After all, I had important things like grades to focus on. I loathed group discussions. I thought I wasn’t supposed to be learning from my classmates. I was supposed to be learning from the professor. All I needed were my textbooks, good grades and family, right?
Unfortunately, all of the things I intentionally pushed myself away from are all exactly what I needed. I got lonely. I lost the motivation to try and hang out with my friends from high school, and when I stopped doing that, I was left with no one. Going to school became a dull cycle of drive to school, study, drive home, eat and sleep. No one knew because I didn’t tell anyone about it.
People aren’t going to care about you unless you give them a reason to. Make yourself present. I was lucky enough to be encouraged to participate in my first club by the club leaders, but that may not always be the case. It is your responsibility to get involved. It may be excruciatingly difficult to push yourself out of that comfort zone, but the payoff is worth it. Good grades are not how I met my friends. The absence of friends is not how I maintained my grades.
Humans are not solitary creatures. The consequences of withdrawing from people entirely are a morale drop. Without morale, without motivation, you can’t get anything done. Humans have three needs: physical, mental and social. The physical need is fulfilled by exercise and/or a sport. The mental need is fulfilled by the education we receive or the work we perform during employment. The third need is fulfilled by simply talking to the people around you. It’s necessary to be a fully healthy being. For that reason, I cannot emphasize the importance of developing relationships enough. I don’t care how hard you say it is to get out there. You could give yourself all the time in the world, but unless you are healthy socially, your essay won’t get done the way you wanted it to.
So yes, while parental figures might constantly discourage you from going to “crazy” parties and such, reward yourself once in a while with one. You’ll have a good time, and you might just land yourself a friend.
Soondos Mulla-Osman is a junior English and DIFT major from Cincinnati.